Practical advice

writing a literary analysis essay for college

Writing a literary analysis essay for college is not an easy job; you’ll have to examine or evaluate a specific aspect of a piece of literature.

This article will offer some practical advise.

Which literary concept to choose?

Basic literary concepts for you to examine are the following:

  • Characters
  • Metaphors
  • Plot
  • Setting
  • Narration
  • Genre
  • Symbols

On top, you could examine the historical concept or additional events o a macro-level, like the political or economic context.

The elements of a solid essay

The Title is important and sets the tone for your whole work. It should be attention-grabbing and let potential readers know what to expect. Make sure your Title clearly describes the approach you are choosing.

Every solid work need a carefully crafted Thesis Statement, telling your reader what to expect in your writing. In it, you state exactly what your work will be about–in a precise, short, and truthful statement.

Without a Thesis Statement you stand almost no chance of getting a passing grade.

Next, you need a good Introduction. Your goal here is to capture the readers attention and prepare him for the pages to come. You can start your Introduction with an anecdote, a challenging question, or a startling fact or statement. Always make sure to state the author’s name and the name of the work you are going to analyze.

In your Text Body, you’ll develop the central ideas for your literary analysis. It’s best practice to have at least three paragraphs that support your thesis statement. Here you want to include evidence from the text to support your own thoughts. Each of your paragraphs should start with a short and concise Topic Sentence. To deliver textual evidence, you can conclude paraphrases and direct quotations here.

After your Text Body comes the Conclusion. Your goal here is to round up your work and give it a feeling of completeness. You also want to let your reader know that she has come to the end of your analysis. Your Conclusion can include a summary of your main points, but make sure to never introduce a new stream of argument here; it’s too late for that.

Who is your reader?

Last, you want to consider who your work is going to be for. In case you’ll discuss your work in class, make sure to use concepts and ideas understood by your fellow students.

Regardless of the audience, your role is never to retell the plot or to summarize the work of literature. You’re role always is to interpret the work, to draw conclusion and development arguments.

Summary: Be clear about your work

Make sure to pick just one concept or aspect and stick to a basic structure. This way you avoid loosing yourself and your reader.